Merlin: The Dark Tower – Dork Review

Merlin: The Dark TowerThis week, Merlin chills out with Stephen King’s Dark Tower novels for the entire length of the episode, whilst Arthur comically blunders about the place, wondering where his servant has gone. Hijinks ensue. Neither Morgana nor Mordred appear.

Obviously, that (mostly) isn’t true. But what does happen? Is it… heartbreaking? Well, watch the episode on iPlayer first, there will be spoilers.

If A Knight Falls This Badly, Does Anyone Care?

The bulk of The Dark Tower sees Gwen kidnapped by Morgana, after the Knights of the Round Table did a particularly crappy bodyguarding job. So off they plod to rescue her. Meanwhile, Gwen herself is undergoing the kind of psychological torture that certainly had me begging for it to stop.

The Knights are brave, Merlin is helpful, at one point a wood sprite tells him someone will die, and you know it must be Elyan, simply because he had one emotional scene earlier. Weirdly, even though it’s his final week, Elyan doesn’t get a final moment or heroic sacrifice. Gaius tries to tell us the enchanted sword would’ve got Arthur if Elyan hadn’t fought it, but I’m sure Merlin would’ve saved him.

This is one of those moments where a long-running but ultimately blank character dies and you struggle to care. At this point, even Leon and Percival had more exposure this series than Elyan, even though he had a much bigger introduction. Mordred… is off doing his hair somewhere?

Gwen Is The Weakest Link?

And then we get to the ending, where Gwen is revealed to be a traitor, her will apparently broken by the Tesco Value Mental Torture earlier. If they later announce Morgana is using mind control, or has replaced her with a Fake Gwen, this will retrospectively seem better.

Right now, though, we are being encouraged to think Gwen has genuinely “turned”, and after all the years building her up as good, strong and clever, it seems odd that she’d fold after a couple of days locked in a room with guffawing illusions. Not to mention: another smirking traitor in Camelot? Do they have no other ideas? And how much does Merlin want to be Homeland at the moment?

Regardless of the cause, there is fun potential in Evil Gwen for future weeks. But this particular episode didn’t really work for me at all, I’m afraid. Hollow death scene, nonsensical twist at the end, not even many fun character moments along the way to distract me. We’ll try again next week.

More Merlin on Dork Adore | Merlin: The Disir – Dork Review

Nick Bryan

Nick learned to read and write at an early age. This has developed into an unhealthy need to either write stories or consume them for later dissection. He reviews film and TV on Dork Adore and The Digital Fix, lives in London and enjoys a nice white beer.

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  1. Fox says

    Can I just say…good on you mate! This is the only review Ive read on these sites that actually calls the Emperor out on his distinct lack of clothing. The rest just gush mindlessly. The Tesco Value torture as you put it was a bit of a fatal flaw – not to mention the endless repetition of scenes. It was just…boring.

    The show is really running on the spot now or sinking back into old comfortable tropes (viper at the bosom yet again?). If it’s the last season its heartbreaking that they’re deliberately frittering it away like this, when they could be doing the kind of magic reveal and proper aftermath the fans have been patiently begging for, for for 5 seasons. Something tells me the guys at Shine are going to shove two fingers up to said fans though. No satisfying payoff for us. Its going that way with every filler episode that pops up. Thanks again though for a realistic review.

    • says

      I haven’t hated the series to date, but this didn’t work. Even if she was meant to be turned against Arthur by the death… she was standing right there when Morgana did it. Oh well. Could still pick up. And I think it’s been more or less confirmed that this isn’t the final series.

      • Fox says

        Really??? Thats certainly news! Where did you hear that? 3 of the knights (Leon, Gwaine and Percival) now have other long term jobs and there have been numerous tweets from companies involved in the show that its all over. Most fans assume its done after this. Is there new information out there?

        I certainly feel that if this is the last one (and I haven’t heard a thing to the contrary, though Im fascinated to hear your sources), it’s a pretty bizarre series to finish on with a decent magic reveal still nowhere on the cards steaming toward the finish line and more endlessly predictable plots by Morgana. I’m incredibly disappointed by this series after seeing what could be done in the first episodes of series 4, but as a long time fan, integrity of characterisation and overall storyline matter alot to me than the (undoubtedly improved) look of the show. Which is why this utter determination to run on the spot and change nothing of substance in the story itself is such a let down.

        • says

          I think it was based on producers comments during the Comic-Con season, this kinda thing: But you are right in that there’s nothing overly certain. And if it is really the FINAL SEASON, yes, things are moving kinda slowly. Maybe their plan is to give it an open ending, on the basis that either series six or a movie will happen eventually. It looks like the Morgana and Mordred storylines are heading for an ending this year, at least.

          And I don’t think it’s exactly a fatal blow to the show if Leon and Percival leave. They could die off-screen and the republic would stand, although hopefully they’d at least come back to do a farewell scene. Gwaine… more of a loss but still not devastating. I think we’ve reached a point where Merlin, Arthur and Gwen are the only genuinely essential characters.

  2. Nimueh123 says

    I must say I am surprised you gave the episode 3,5 starts after what you wrote. As episodes go I enjoyed this a lot. It was very well done with excellent acting from Angel.
    I do understand where your criticism comes from, but I have a funny feeling that you are not a Merlin fan at all. Of course that is totally okay. And I do agree with you on quite a few points. You could ask a lot of ‘why’ questions with most episodes of Merlin.
    for ex. Why does Morgana not simply go and kil lArthur? She could, easily.!
    But then, is it really as bad as you say? Maybe it is and I can’t or don’t want to see it – I love Colin and Bradley. They are brilliant in their roles and I hope for the show’s sake that we will get a reveal to make the storyline for once more plausible.

    • says

      I like the show, and most of the main actors. Just thought Elyan’s death seemed arbitrary and Gwen’s “evil turn” came out of nowhere. And there wasn’t much to the episode other than that, Still hoping for better in the future – more Merlin/Arthur scenes would’ve made this episode much better.

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